Talk about total dominance.
The first half was one where the Tide dominated just in sheer number of possessions. John Petty was hot with 12 first half points and only one missed shot, but as a team, the Tide only outshot the Rebels 47% to 45%. But with 36 shots to only 22 from Ole Miss, and there you have a 42-26 halftime lead. The Tide nearly doubled Ole Miss’s rebound count in the first half, and had less than half the number of turnovers. Those kind of possession numbers generally point to a big lead as long as your shooting is respectable.
During halftime is when I started getting nervous. Over the last decade, this has been exactly the moment when the Tide blows a 20 point lead in the second half to give up a game they should not have lost.
Well, Avery Johnson and squad had other plans. They quickly extended their lead from 16 to 23 before Ole Miss managed a bucket. Donta Hall, Galin Smith, and Dazon Ingram all did work underneath the basket to continue to push the lead, and a leaping 3-point shot from a covered John Petty to extend the lead to 28 points seemed to be the dagger that finished the job and deflated Ole Miss with 11 minutes still to play. Alabama ran clock after that and made enough free throws to keep their point total moving upwards.
The last few minutes were a homage to the raucous crowd that showed up. Fan favorite Lawson Schaeffer, along with fellow walk-ons Tyler Barnes and Britton Johnson, all got into the game. Schaeffer made one heroic effort at juking the entire defense and then driving his sub 6-foot frame into the lane single handedly. He nearly got the layup while falling down too, but alas, it didn’t go in. The crowd went nuts anyway. Then Johnson lost his shorts all the way down to his knees on the defensive end, capping off a humiliating loss for the Ole Miss Rebels.
John Petty continued his dominance from earlier this week and was the driving force behind Alabama’s success. When Petty plays to his potential, working underneath the basket and dishing to the big men, while using his 3-point game to keep defenders honest, Alabama will be tough to beat. The hard part is getting him to remember to do that, rather than sit back and launch twenty 3-pointers like a long-range artillery. He finished with 15 points.
Donta Hall is the inside man and the other key cog to this Alabama offense. He was second on the team with 11 points and put together yet another double-double, nabbing 10 rebounds as well. Throw in 3 blocks and 2 steals, and he was responsible for giving the Tide 15 mid-play possessions. That’s how to control a game.
Galin Smith had a solid second half and wound up with 10 points. He did a lot of work scrounging under the basket and managing to corral loose balls and get them in the basket. Herb Jones and Dazon Ingram were their usual selves, racking up a chunk of rebounds and just under 10 points. Kira Lewis had 7 points, but missed 6/8 shots in what amounted to a rather quiet night.
Alabama outrebounded Ole Miss 44-32, and at one point in the second half, had more offensive rebounds than the Rebels had defensive rebounds. If I haven’t used the word “domination” enough, the Tide dominated the glass all night. Throw in 9 steals and 9 blocks to only 1 and 4 from the Ole Miss defense, and you can see how Alabama attempted 15 more shots than the Rebels. Throw in scoring 10 more than the opponent in free throws, and the method of a 21 point blowout is pretty cut and dry.
When you look at the Tide’s body of work lately: A solid win over Missouri, a last second loss to the best team in the nation in Tennessee, and an annhilation of #20 Ole Miss, plus beating a top ten team in Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, and you’re looking at a basketball team that has gone from looking like a long shot to make the NCAA tournament to one that will likely be flirting with a top 25 ranking soon.
I think the rest of this season goes as John Petty does. If he continues to play at a high level, both on and off the ball, like he has over the last week, Alabama will be (and is) a very, very dangerous team.
Buckle up, and Roll Tide!